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Why bitcoin isn't a big focus yet at PayPal

Brian Sozzi
·Editor-at-Large

PayPal isn’t yet entirely sold on bitcoin being the future of payments.

“We have teams clearly working on blockchain and cryptocurrency as well, and we want to take part in that in whatever form that takes in the future — I just think it’s a little early on right now [on bitcoin],” PayPal Chief Financial Officer John Rainey said on Yahoo Finance’s The First Trade Tuesday.

Rainey’s comments come amid a broader rally for bitcoin prices in recent weeks. Bitcoin bulls have resurfaced from hibernating in their caves on news that Fidelity will begin offering bitcoin trading services shortly. Further, Facebook has signaled it’s working on its own cryptocurrency platform.

Both developments have brought back the view (which has been dead for a year due to bitcoin’s crash from the all-time highs) that bitcoin could be a credible future mode of payment. Whether that is true or not is unclear, but the bitcoin fans love getting their grand visions for the cryptocurrency massaged.

BERLIN, GERMANY - DECEMBER 14: The Logo of worldwide online payments system PayPal is displayed on a smartphone on December 14, 2018 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Thomas Trutschel/Photothek via Getty Images)
The Logo of worldwide online payments system PayPal is displayed on a smartphone. (Photo by Thomas Trutschel/Photothek via Getty Images)

As for PayPal, it’s likely right to focus on other areas of growth rather than wasting time right now trying to exploit on a nefarious payments system.

The mobile payments giant is fresh off taking a $500 million stake in Uber ahead of an anticipated IPO this week. Rainey said PayPal made the investment because of the desire by the two companies to develop a payments platform together. PayPal has also inked a deal with Facebook’s Instagram to be its payments provider of choice for those now shopping on the platform.

Meanwhile, Rainey said PayPal remains on the hunt for acquisitions globally this year. With the company projected by some on Wall Street to generate $3 billion in free cash flow in 2019, PayPal’s two-year acquisition spree is likely to continue... as it should.

Brian Sozzi is an editor-at-large and co-host of ‘The First Trade’ at Yahoo Finance. Follow Brian Sozzi him on Twitter @BrianSozzi

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